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The House on Mango Street

by Sandra Cisneros

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What does the narrator compare her mother's hair to in The House on Mango Street?

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In the prose poem "Hairs/Pelitos" from The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros uses lyrical descriptions of her loved ones' hair to illustrate their unique character and the diversity within her family.

Most of her family members get a sentence each, with only a brief (and sometimes blunt) description of their hair. Sandra's mother is the notable exception—in a longer, devoted paragraph, Sandra likens her mother's carefully-pinned curls to "little rosettes," "candy circles," and "the warm smell of bread before you bake it."

These comparisons reveal a lot about Sandra's relationship with her mother, as well as her perception of her mother's role in the family. Describing her hair as "little rosettes" evokes a sense of careful delicacy, deliberateness, and beauty. "Candy circles" suggests a certain sweetness of temperament. A reader might interpret this as a daughter's uncomplicated adoration, but it also might be interpreted as a nod toward her mother's regretful malleability in the face of life circumstances.

She also describes the distinctive smell of her mother's hair:

... sweet to put your nose into when she is holding you, holding you and you feel safe, is the warm smell of bread before you bake it, is the smell when she makes room for you on her side of the bed still warm with her skin ...

This deep, sensory comfort belies the closeness of their relationship and emphasizes the extent to which Esperanza views her mother as both the literal and figurative nurturing epicenter of the family.

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